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U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to allocate an additional 2,000 officers across the country, including about 20 at the Champlain Port of Entry. In this Dec. 7, 2011 file photo, a car approaches the United States and Canada border crossing. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz, File)

Staffing increases planned on border

By: DAN HEATH

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to allocate an additional 2,000 officers across the country, including about 20 at the Champlain Port of Entry.

Another 20 or so are expected to be added at Alexandria Bay and more at the Peace Bridge (Buffalo) Port.

The increased staffing will be in place by the end of fiscal year 2015, Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. 

ECONOMIC EFFECT

North Country Chamber of Commerce president Garry Douglas said nothing is more important to the North Country economy than border fluidity.

“It directly affects tourism and shopping but also investment and supply-chain connections,” he told the Press-Republican by email.

“Because most of Congress is not on the northern border, we had real reasons to expect possible reductions in federal resources and personnel this year. But thanks to Congressman Owens, as co-leader of the Northern Border Caucus in the House, and Sens. (Charles) Schumer and (Kirsten) Gillibrand, the economic importance of our border was recognized, resulting in a needed increase in staffing instead of a reduction.

“There’s no question this is good for the North Country.”

JOB CONNECTION

Owens said that increasing these allocations makes trade and travel across the northern border easier and more secure, supporting job growth and tourism throughout northern New York. 

“Increasing Canadian trade and tourism is vital to local job creation and economic development, especially along our northern border,” he said in a press release.

“Improving these border services supports the growth of business partnerships that increase Canadian investment in our region and provides our local businesses with greater access to the Canadian marketplace, growing jobs and local economies throughout the region.”

RESOURCE STRATEGY

The allocation is made possible by the Fiscal Year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, through which Owens, as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, advocated for the inclusion of greater trade-facilitating resources for New York and the northern border with Canada. 

The move is a key component of the agency’s Resource Optimization Strategy, which maximizes resources and increases efficiencies in order to improve travelers’ experiences as they arrive at the nation’s ports of entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said research shows that every addition of 33 officers has the potential to add 1,000 jobs to the economy.

“These measures are a significant down payment and a wise investment in our airports, seaports and land border crossings that will pay dividends for the nation’s economy,” he said.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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